Difference Between Ethics and Etiquette

Main Difference – Ethics vs Etiquette

Ethics and Etiquette are two concepts that govern the behavior of human beings. However, there is a distinct difference between ethics and etiquette. Ethics refer to a set of moral principles that relates to the difference between good and bad. Etiquette is a customary code which indicates the proper and polite way to behave in society. The main difference between ethics and etiquette is that ethics relate to principles or conscience whereas etiquette is related to behavior.

Ethics – Meaning and Usage

According to the Oxford dictionary ethics is “Moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity”.  Ethics refer to principles, values, standards and rules that govern a person’s behavior. It can be the deciding factor between right and wrong. Ethics can mean different things to different people. Basically, we decide the difference between right and wrong based on our conscience, religion, laws of the country, etc. Therefore, ethics can be based on various factors.

Let us now look at the practical usage of this word. The phrase work ethic is very common in the contemporary business context. A person with a strong work ethic works hard; he is attentive, careful and honest. 

The following examples demonstrate the use of this word in a sentence.

I cannot help you in this; it’s a question of ethics.

He was promoted to the post of assistant manager because of his strong work ethics.

Difference Between Ethics and Etiquette

Etiquette – Meaning and Usage

Etiquette indicates the way of behaving politely and properly in a social setting. It is the accepted code of behavior. Etiquette is the guidelines that govern a way a person should behave in the society. Etiquette basically refers to good manners or polite behavior. Saying sorry and thank you appropriately, being punctual, table manners, etc. are some common acceptable social behavior or etiquette.

However, some forms of etiquette may be unique among members of a certain profession. They can also vary according to different cultures, ethnicities and religions. That is to say, what is considered polite in one culture can be considered rude in another society. For example, slurping soup is considered to be impolite, but in countries like Japan and China, slurping is seen as a way of praising the food.

The following examples depict how the word etiquette is used in a sentence.

My mother considered tardiness as a serious breach of etiquette.

The rules of etiquette are slowly changing.

The new earl was not familiar with social etiquette.Main Difference - Ethics vs Etiquette

Difference Between Ethics and Etiquette


Ethics refer to the moral principles that govern our behavior.

Etiquette is a set of rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave.

Abstract vs Concrete

Ethics is related to principles.

Etiquette is related to behavior.


Ethics can mean different things to different people.

Etiquette can differ according to culture, ethnicity, religion, country, etc.

Personal vs Social

Ethics is personal; the right and wrong are judged individually.

Etiquette is social; it is not created by an individual.Difference Between Ethics and Etiquette- infographic

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